GOVERNMENT has clarified that it has not imposed a ban on maize meal exports to Zimbabwe but has just restricted exports in order to verify how much grain was available in the country.
Agriculture Deputy Minister Maxas N’gonga said Zambia had not imposed a ban on maize meal export but only restricted the export because the country did not have a lot of surplus.
Mr N’gonga was reacting to a story carried by the Herald Newspaper of Zimbabwe that Zambia had banned maize exports to Zimbabwe, leaving millers in that country struggling to meet the demand.
He said despite Zambia not having a surplus to export maize to neighboring countries at the moment it had enough to feed the nation.
Mr N’gonga said the restriction which was regulated through export permits was aimed at verifying how much grain was in the country.
“Zambia has not imposed a ban on maize meal export to any country but restricted the export of maize because it did not have a surplus at the moment.
What we have is enough to feed the nation and not to export. The restriction is merely to verify how much grain we have as a country,” he said.
Mr N’gonga said the maize stored by the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) was meant for internal consumption as it was bought using tax payer’s money.
He said what was in stock at the moment would not be exported as Government had the obligation to feed the nation before thinking of exporting to other neighboring countries.
Mr N’gonga said when Zambia had adequate surplus maize it exported to Zimbabwe, Botswana, Malawi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola and other countries in East Africa.
He said Zimbabwe was not the only country that had been affected since the restriction was imposed.
Meanwhile, authorities in Mpulungu have intercepted trucks loaded with 200 tonnes of mealie-meal bound for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Mpulungu District Commissioner Dennis Sikazwe said a combined team of officers from the Office of the President special branch, Zambia Police and his office had intercepted the trucks just before they entered the DRC.
Mr Sikazwe said the officers were prompted to intercept the trucks because the commodity was from Kasama Milling which had bought maize from the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) at a lower price.
“Kasama Milling has been buying maize from Government at a reasonable price and these people are buying mealie-meal at a subsidised price and selling it at high price in the DRC.
As Government, we cannot allow this because this mealie-meal is meant for our people,” he said.
He explained that the two transporters Goosika General Dealers and Maronka Enterprises both had permits from the Ministry of Agriculture to allow them export the mealie-meal which are yet to be verified.
He said the trucks were currently parked at Mpulungu harbour under police security.
Mr Sikazwe warned unscrupulous traders who were buying the commodity at a subsidised price and exploiting consumers to desist from the vice.
“We have been warning these traders dealing in mealie-meal and exploiting Zambians.
They are selling the commodity at a price higher than the normal price,” he said.